Asylum seeker stitches eyes and mouth in protest


Asylum seeker stitches eyes and mouth in protest

News

Written by: Rebecca Wood


An Iranian asylum seeker has sewn his face up and is on hunger strike in protest at his ‘inhumane treatment’ in immigration detention.

Fariat Mohammadi, an Iranian asylum seeker who fought against the Islamic regime in Iran, has been held in detention since his arrival in the UK eleven months ago. Currently held in Colnbrook immigration removal centre, he started to refuse food and stitched his eyes and mouth closed seven days ago.

Fariat, who was working in Iran for an opposition party, fled to Iraq when a friend was arrested. He sought asylum in the UK when his whereabouts became known to, and he was threatened by, the Iranian security forces.

Fariat says: ‘Why are they imprisoning me here for so long? I am a victim of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I fought against their injustices for the rights of people in Iran and had to leave because they tried to arrest me. I came to the UK and they have locked me up without rights. It is inhumane. I have been forced to take this drastic action. I haven’t been outside or seen any part of Britain since the day I arrived. They have put me in the detention centre like a criminal.’

Dashty Jamal, from the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, commented: ‘Fariat is a victim of the Home Office policy which destroys the humanity of refugees. He has not been given a chance to live as a human being in the UK. The UK government tells us it supports the struggle for human rights in Iran and yet it itself represses the Iranian people who come here to flee persecution. We call for his immediate release from detention.’

A report by Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, earlier this year found that vulnerable men detained at Colnbrook were being held in ‘oppressive and degrading’ conditions, whilst bullying was found to be a ‘significant problem’.

In addition, the report described the vulnerable persons unit as ‘not fit for purpose’, said that the separation unit was being ‘misused’ and that use of force had increased. It highlighted fears expressed by both staff and management that Colnbrook was ‘struggling to cope’.

Colnbrook, which is situated near Heathrow airport in west London, is described by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as ‘the most secure removal centre within the UKBA estate’ and has been built to category B prison standard.

Related links

International Federation of Iraqi Refugees

Stop Deportations to Iraq

Read the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ report on Colnbrook



The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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Niki Adams
Niki Adams
10 years ago

We had the privilege to have worked with Sonia (David) Burgess. She was not only creative, principled and thorough; she was compassionate and respectful to her clients, and accountable to the wider movement for justice. While she paid scrupulous attention to the legal work needed to make the strongest case in court, she worked with campaigners who gathered public support. She recognised that changing the political climate outside court was also crucial to winning justice. Almost uniquely she confronted those in her profession who were lazy, neglectful and even corrupt. In 1997 she wrote about the devastating consequences of malpractice: “in the field of asylum work it is a truth known to practitioners that legal representation can kill.” We are shattered to have lost such a caring human being so early and in such tragic circumstances. The standard she set is one which all lawyers must be held to. Niki Adams, Legal Action for Women Crossroads Women’s Centre 230A Kentish Town Road London NW5 2AB

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